X-Men (1st series) #63

Issue Date: 
December 1969
Story Title: 
War in the World Below!

Roy Thomas (writer), Neal Adams (penciler), Tom Palmer (embellisher), Sam Rosen (letterer), Stan Lee (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Angel tries to stop his teammates and Ka-Zar from attacking the Creator, unaware the ally he is protecting is really the villainous Magneto. The other X-Men and Ka-Zar are battling his villainous swamp savages some of whom he turned into super-powered mutates. Eventually, they confront Magneto, who unleashes his secret weapon, another mutated swamp savage named Lorelei, who holds the men in her thrall. Marvel Girl is on her own. After rebuffing Magneto’s advances, she controls Cyclops to destroy the device that empowered the Swamp Savages. The X-Men snap out of it in time to see Magneto seemingly perish when parts of the device fall on him and the Swamp Savages slowly turn back to their original form.

Full Summary: 

It’s almost too rich! Too fraught with black humor! the villainous Magneto triumphs. The high-flying Angel on his way to do battle with his fellow X-Men and Ka-Zar and hardly suspecting that the one he seeks to protect is Magneto!

Magneto returns to his machinery. It will soon matter little what the Angel believes, he notes. Within the hour, he shall have perfected his greatest, his ultimate mutant! Then nothing and no one will challenge Magneto’s supremacy in the Savage Land!

Elsewhere, the X-Men and Ka-Zar see the Angel approaching. Ka-Zar believes him to be an enemy but, when Marvel Girl corrects him, Beast points out Angel’s new costume and silent approach. And last they saw their teammate back in New York recovering. He suggests caution. That doesn’t sit well with Ka-Zar, who tears out a young tree and ambushes the Angel with it.

Once Angel is down, Ka-Zar asks him where the strange ones dwell. The other X-Men order him to stop, assuring Ka-Zar this is really their teammate he is attacking. Ka-Zar loses interest and wants to leave, but Angel warns him not to go that way. Ka-Zar ignores him and Angel figures it would serve him right if the Creator got him.

Angel tells the other X-Men what happened to him.

He followed them to the Savage Land, where he was attacked by some flying lizards, He was declared dead on arrival, but the Creator found a spark of life in him and returned him to life. He’s like Professor X, he explains, finding mutants in the jungle and helping them. That’s why he wanted to stop his teammates, so they wouldn’t undo his lifework.

Beast worries they’ll never overtake Ka-Zar. Angel points to a huge figure in the shadow of a boulder. It’s the blind giant Gaza, who hits Ka-Zar hard. Iceman and Beast attack him in turn but Beast is kicked by Amphibius, who loudly praises the Angel for distracting their master’s enemies long enough for his troops to mount an attack. He will be richly rewarded. Now do they see the truth? Ka-Zar asks the X-Men. The manbird is a viper in their midst who betrayed them. Angel stutters that he didn’t and luckily his teammates believe him.

However, now non-superpowered swamp men are about to attack them, egged on by Amphibius. Ka-Zar attacks, preventing Cyclops from taking them all down with a wide optic blast. He tells Beast to give Ka-Zar a helping hand and he’ll try to get a clear shot.

Taking on several swamp savages, Ka-Zar shouts he needs no helping hand. His word is law in the Savage Land and he will deal with those who break it. Unimpressed, Beast remarks that this isn’t about some primeval jaywalking, so he’s giving him aid whether he wants it or not!

Barbarus attacks the Beast with four fists, but Beast deftly kicks him away, grabs two of his arms with one of his and kayos him.

Angel watches his teammates, feeling guilty for almost letting the Creator turn him into a murderer. He vows vengeance and flies to find and confront the Creator.

Having arrived at his home, he sees nobody at first but hears voices and eavesdrops to hear the Creator telling Brainchild to let the others fight the infernal X-Men with tooth and claw. They have more important matters to attend to. They are a great team, the Creator continues. He turned Brainchild into a mutant, and now they create them together.

Angle reveals himself, angrily shouting he doesn’t search for mutants. He creates them out of captured swamp savages.

He still doesn’t know the whole truth, the Creator replies and reveals his true identity by putting on the helmet of Magneto.

But he saw him die! Angel bursts out. This is what he wanted him to think, Magneto scoffs, when he hurtled headlong into the swirling sea. For he knew, he could not battle both X-Men and Avengers alone, so he used his magnetic powers to burrow down to safety. He learned that the world below is honeycombed with alloy-rich caves. He explored them until he reached the Savage Land and vowed to make it his own. And now he shall do precisely that! And after the Savage Land shall fall the surface world! Angel looks at the glowing sphere Magneto is pointing at and cries out in horror…

Not far away, the battle is over. Ka-Zar compliments Beast’s fighting skills and Beast retorts that Ka-Zar would make even Buster Crabbe look to his laurels. They chase toward the enemy’s home and Cyclops blasts open a hole in the high fence, behind which a mutated swamp savage calls out soundlessly and the next moment savage wolves attack them. Ka-Zar calls for Zabu to defend them and quickly the sabertooth tiger chases the wolves away. The other mutated swamp savages seem to have fled.

Ka-Zar senses there is more at stake here. He tells the X-Men to smash the final gates behind which Amphibius and Brainchild are waiting and intend to play for time. Brainchild order Amphibius to strike the seventeenth stone on the nearest corner of the nearest column.

When the X-Men and Ka-Zar enter the doorway, Amphibius collapses the stones above them. Iceman shouts out in a panic that he can’t stop the avalanche. Jean scoffs and stops the stones telekinetically.

Beast grabs Amphibius. Brainchild throws a hammer with eerie precision but it is basted apart by Cyclops’ optic blast. Iceman hits him with an iceball.

Amphibius protests the Creator will be angry. Calling him a “refuge from a Tenniel woodcut,” Beast warns him what will happen if he doesn’t lead them to his boss right now. Amphibius announces he will do so, since the Creator will destroy them all. He is through that doorway.

Cyclops muses this set-up the group of evil mutants smacks of one man… whom they all thought dead… The door swings open to reveal he was right, as it is Magneto who expects them.

Ka-Zar notes he senses their foe’s evil. The X-Men see that Angel seems to be in a trance. Magneto tells them to look at and listen to the newborn mutant behind him… Lorelei. The ethereal beauty sings and he men are hypnotized.

Can she stop making those strange noises now? Lorelei asks innocently. Yes, Magneto replies. His guests are spellbound with no will of their own and shall remain so until he kills them.

That’s enough talk about killing, Marvel Girl snaps, little miss glow worm bewitched the male of the species, but she didn’t do a thing for Marvel Girl!

He knew that, Magneto boasts, but surely she can see the odds against her are hopeless. He points to the huge device behind him. With it he can create countless neo-mutants… enough to conquer the world. Resist him and he shall destroy her… and rule alone. Join him and she may reign by his side.

Disgusted, she announces she’d put that in the fate worse than death category. She telekinetically tries to ram a table into the device, but Magneto draws his weapon and pulverizes it. She tries to hit him with a torch but he easily dodges this with his jetpack and fires at her from his metal armatures. Jean realizes it looks hopeless for her.

Magneto boasts that she wouldn’t even have survived this long if he did not have to curtail his magnetic powers in the midst of this delicate apparatus. He points his gun at her. The device on his arms acts to drain most of his magnetism. Thus he is forced to dispose of her by more conventional means. He can try, she replies.

A moment later, an optic blast smashes his weapon courtesy of Jean telekinetically operating Cyclops’ visor. She turns him on the device next and Lorelei feels like she’s coming out of a deep sleep.

Magneto realizes that means the X-Men will soon awake. With the remnant of his magnetic powers, he hurls metal debris at them, hoping to kill them first. However, his attempt fails. It’s too late for him, Cyclops announces. Too late for anything… but die! Magneto realizes as the wreckage of his device falls on him.

Cyclops orders the X-Men out and they figure that this time Magneto really died. They note that the neo mutants are turning back into simple swamp savages. As mutants, they’d have been outcasts, Cyclops remarks. They’ll be happier that way. Who could be happier to lose vast powers that set them apart from the normal? Ka-Zar wonders. The X-Men look at him sadly as Cyclops remarks, off-hand, he can think of at least five people without even trying.

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Men)

Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lorelei, Lupo, Piper (Savage Land Mutates)
Swamp Savages

in flashbacks:
Angel, Havok, Lorna Dane
Dr. Anderssen
Tanya Anderssen

Story Notes: 

Magneto “died” in Avengers (1st series) #53.

Buster Crabbe, as Beast calls Ka-Zar, was a famous Olympic athlete and actor in movie serials. Though he is best remembered for the roles of both Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, he also played Tarzan, the character on which Ka-Zar was modeled.

Jon Tenniel was the original artist of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books.

While the Savage Land Mutates seem to lose their powers, they regain them eventually and even add more members to their ranks.

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